Las Vegas: GM Racing final summary

Phil Burkhart Scores First Funny Car Win For Chevy Monte Carlo Anderson's Grand Am Wins in Pro Stock LAS VEGAS, April 4, 2004 - It didn't take long. In just its fourth race in competition, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo scored its first victory...

Phil Burkhart Scores First Funny Car Win For Chevy Monte Carlo
Anderson's Grand Am Wins in Pro Stock

LAS VEGAS, April 4, 2004 - It didn't take long. In just its fourth race in competition, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo scored its first victory in NHRA Funny Car today when Phil Burkhart defeated Whit Bazemore in the final round of the Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 35-year-old Burkhart wrapped up the new Monte Carlo's first win in a splendid, efficient package of driving finesse and aerodynamic performance, topping it off with the legendary Chevy red bow tie.

"It's a fantastic feeling to be able to drive a Monte Carlo to its first victory in NHRA Funny Car competition," said Burkhart. "But the reality is that there will be many more wins for the new Chevrolet now that more and more drivers are taking delivery of their new racecars. To be among the drivers throughout all of motorsports who have won in a Chevrolet is truly a tremendous feeling of pride and accomplishment for myself and all of my Checker Schuck's Kragen teammates."

Burkhart came into today's eliminator with his CSK Chevrolet qualified in the No. 12 position. The native of Utica, N.Y., battled his way through a "Murderer's Row" of Funny Car opponents defeating Tim Wilkerson in round one, Gary Scelzi in round two and John Force in the semifinals before facing Whit Bazemore in the championship heat.

Burkhart's Monte Carlo marched through the field with bracket-car consistency running 4.849 seconds in the first session, 4.887 seconds in the quarterfinals and 4.893 seconds in round three. In the title matchup against Bazemore, Burkhart's Chevy launched first and never relinquished the lead crossing the finish line in 5.029 seconds at 264.03 mph. Bazemore's Dodge slowed to a 5.452 e.t. at 189.50 mph.

"The only thing I can say about the final round was that I never saw him," said Burkhart. "We put some cylinders out and started spinning the tires a little bit down track. But that's to be expected since this is our first race in this car and we're still learning how to run it. I wasn't going to let off the throttle and let him come by me, but that's the kind of mindset you have when you're racing to win. Everything came together for us this weekend and couldn't have worked out any better than it did."

It was the first victory for Burkhart since the 1999 Pontiac Excitement Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, and the first win for Chevrolet in Funny Car competition since February 2003, when Ron Capps won at Phoenix in a Camaro. It was also Chevrolet's 65th all-time win in NHRA Funny Car competition and 135th final-round appearance.

"I don't want to wait another five years before my next one," said Burkhart. "We're on the right track, we learned a lot this weekend and we'll continue learning how to run this car. We have a lot of new equipment at our disposal and the guys on this Checker Schuck's Kragen team did a great job. I'm just the lucky guy who gets to drive this car and steer their creation."

In Pro Stock, Pontiac's Greg Anderson won his third race of the season and his third straight event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by defeating Kurt Johnson in the final round. It was Anderson's 19th career victory, his sixth win in the last seven races and his 15th victory in the last 27 events dating back to last season's NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. It was also Pontiac's 128th all-time win in NHRA Pro Stock competition, the most by any manufacturer in the history of the sport.

"The reason for our success can be attributed to every one on this team," said Anderson. "Everybody deserves the credit. I just can't say enough about the teammates who make this all possible. This Pontiac Grand Am is an absolute pleasure to drive and the GM power under the hood is second to none."

Anderson's Pontiac Grand Am entered today's eliminator qualified in the No. 1 position, the ninth consecutive race in which the defending POWERade champion has earned the low qualifying award. The 43-year-old Charlotte, N.C. resident defeated V. Gaines in round one, David Connolly in round two and Larry Morgan in round three before facing Johnson in the finals.

The Vegas General Construction Pontiac posted the four quickest elapsed times of the day, and the quickest elapsed times in each session running 6.838 seconds, 6.839 seconds, 6.846 seconds and 6.849 seconds. His 201.40 mph top speed in the semifinals against Connolly was the fastest of the day, and his qualifying run on Saturday of 6.812 seconds at 202.03 mph set both ends of the LVMS track record. The win extended Anderson's lead in the standings over second-place Johnson to 92 points with 19 races remaining on the schedule.

"This Pontiac Grand Am will not do anything wrong," said Anderson. "And that's the way it's been since we won here for the first time last year. This car loves this racetrack. We roll it off the truck and it's perfect. Tomorrow I'm going to lobby the NHRA to run about 10 more races here, that's the way I feel about this place. With this being Ken Black's hometown and with the KB Racing team located here, we couldn't ask for a better place to win a race."

The next scheduled event is the 17th annual O'Reilly NHRA Nationals on April 15 - 18 at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Tex.

-gm racing-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , David Connolly , Ken Black